The Potluck

Legalization bill inches forward in conference

By: - May 12, 2023 12:22 pm

Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.

House and Senate negotiators moved closer to finalizing the marijuana legalization bill on Friday with agreement on four of the ten total articles included in the legislation. 

They include:

  • Article 3, Business Development, which creates the regulatory framework for the legal cannabis industry;
  • Article 6, Miscellaneous Provisions, which includes a hodgepodge of rules governing everything from compacts with the state’s tribes to youth education;
  • Article 7, Temporary Regulation of Certain Products, which covers the regulation of low-dose edible products until the new Office of Cannabis Management is set up;
  • Article 8, Scheduling of Marijuana, which moves cannabis from the most restrictive Schedule 1 category into Schedule 3.

Differences in the House and Senate versions of these articles were modest, with broader discrepancies on taxation, possession limits, civil penalties and other items still waiting to be resolved. The meeting was brief, under 30 minutes, underscoring how most of the negotiation work on conference committee bills happens out of the public eye.

The bill’s supporters were bolstered by the release Friday of a KTSP/SurveyUSA poll showing nearly two thirds of Minnesota voters support the legislation. Strong majorities of Democrats and Independents favor the bill, along with a plurality of Republicans.

While the next meeting on the bill has not been scheduled, the chief authors, Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, and Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, have been adamant that they intend to send it to Gov. Tim Walz by the end of session.

Near the end of the meeting, Republican Sen. Jordan Rasmusson of Fergus Falls said that if needed, the conference committee could extend its work beyond the standard legislative deadline.

Stephenson disagreed: “It is my expectation, intention and desire that this bill will be on the governor’s desk before the end of this legislative session.”

The session ends May 22. 

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Christopher Ingraham
Christopher Ingraham

Christopher Ingraham covers greater Minnesota and reports on data-driven stories across the state. He's the author of the book "If You Lived Here You'd Be Home By Now," about his family's journey from the Baltimore suburbs to rural northwest Minnesota. He was previously a data reporter for the Washington Post.